White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough bluntly told a liberal pro-Israel lobby group yesterday “an occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”
He added, “President Obama still firmly believes what he said in Jerusalem two years ago — that peace is necessary, just and possible. Peace is necessary because it is the only way to ensure that a secure state of Israel is both Jewish and democratic. Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely. That's the truth.”
It's not the first time the word “occupation” has been used by an Obama official. In fact, in 2013, President Obama used it himself.
“The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it,” Obama said in Ramallah during a joint appearance with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
McDonough's remarks continued the White House's pushback against Netanyahu's comments before his re-election that a two-state solution was off the table. Netanyahu has since walked back the remarks.
“Over the course of President Obama's administration,” McDonough said, “most recently with the tireless efforts of Secretary Kerry, the United States has expended tremendous energy in pursuit of this goal. That is why the prime minister's comments on the eve of the election — in which he first intimated and then made very clear in response to a follow-up question that a Palestinian state will not be established while he is prime minister — were so troubling.”
McDonough said the Obama administration will continue to oppose Israeli settlement expansion because “it undermines the prospects for peace.”